Firefighter douse the flames at the NOAA Fisheries Building Friday evening in Mukilteo. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Firefighter douse the flames at the NOAA Fisheries Building Friday evening in Mukilteo. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Fire damages NOAA site near new ferry terminal in Mukilteo

Smoke flooded the waterfront Friday night as fire crews descended on the abandoned research center.

MUKILTEO — A fire on the Mukilteo waterfront damaged a boarded-up NOAA research center Friday evening. 

Flames broke out in a smaller building adjacent to the large two-story Mukilteo Research Station off Front Street, Mukilteo Fire Chief Chris Alexander said.

About nine fire engines responded to the scene around 7:45 p.m. Smoke flooded downtown. Everett engine crews rushed to the scene, too, but the response did not go to a second alarm.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s large abandoned center filled with heavy smoke, but it was unclear if there was any actual fire damage to the main two-story structure, Alexander said. Walls were still standing when the fire was under control, about a half-hour later.

Nobody was injured.

The cause was under investigation.

The building was abandoned, fenced off and in poor shape. NOAA had campaigned for years to secure millions of dollars in federal funding to build a gem of a science center in its place. But NOAA leadership decided in recent weeks not to pursue the project, according to a letter sent to local officials by U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett. For years, the station was used to study climate change and ocean acidification.

Firefighter douse the flames at the vacant NOAA Research Station Friday evening in Mukilteo. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Firefighter douse the flames at the vacant NOAA Research Station Friday evening in Mukilteo. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

This summer, the Port of Everett is to take ownership of the property, port spokesperson Catherine Soper said in an email.

However, the federal agency must remove all structures from the site, including the smaller building that burned Friday, before the transfer, she said.

On Friday, firefighters weren’t sure if anything of value remained in that building.

A damage estimate was not available.

The fire was next door to Mukilteo’s new ferry terminal. Ferries continued to depart and arrive as the smoke lifted.

Herald reporter Joey Thompson contributed to this story.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; Twitter: @snocaleb.

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